Monday, September 25, 2017

Thinking of a nuclear power plant as a deniable nuclear weapon [COMPACTIDEA]

This thought occurred to me when I read this FT story [that purposely tried to stir up controversy and a general sense of unease] about a Russian-built nuclear power plant in Belarus, close to Lithuania. China's artificial islands are sometimes [rightly] thought of as unsinkable aircraft carriers. Could benign-looking civilian-use nuclear power stations be in fact usable - in times of war - as killer nuclear weapons? Specifically, what if a nation - say Belarus - strategically locates a "civilian use" nuclear power plant at its border, in an area with near-zero own population, but close to an adversary nation's key population center? What international law stops a nation from doing this? Probably none. You get plausible deniability - "Oh! It's just a civilian-use plant for reliable electricity supply.".

But what if during war such an atomic power station is purposely blown up, thus releasing highly toxic radioactive radiation and particles towards the adversary nation's population center? Usual wind directions could also be taken into account to conduct planning. The idea isn't as impractical as it might seem at first, particularly with countries such as Russia forced to resort to asymmetrical reciprocal measures in response to Western financial/trade sanctions and heavy eastward military buildup of NATO.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

India needs one day in each quarter in which absolutely no one makes any work-related calls, SMSes, emails, WhatsApp messages, etc., to you [COMPACTIDEA]

In India's timings outside the stipulated work hours aren't respected. Employers call up employees at odd hours and on odd days, aware that the employee must be sleeping or enjoying his holiday. Customers call up their suppliers before 9 AM [and after 8 PM], knowing fully well that it's either too early to call or is the other person's private/family time. This basically indicates a severe lack of respect for the life of others, and a regard for only one's own needs and priorities [I do the same, or rather I have to do the same].

And so I wish that the Indian government introduce one day each quarter on which - through advertisements and radio messages - Indians are encouraged to make absolutely no work-related phone calls, SMS messages, WhatsApp messages, emails, etc.. Indians deserve at least 4 days per year which are totally free of the nuisance/nonsense of incoming calls/messages at outrageous hours. It should be made a taboo to make a business-related communication on these 4 days. It'll be so nice to have such peaceful days.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Buy at 68% discount and sell at 65% discount doesn't imply 3% gross profit margin [COMPACTIDEA]

Learnt this from a guy named Pankaj [a CA] at his fireworks shop at the annual Diwali fireworks market at Dana Mandi, Ludhiana. He said the other shops are selling Cock brand fireworks at 60% discount thinking that since they're buying at 68% discount, they get 8% gross margin when they sell at 60% discount, and that this is the minimum that they need considering shop rental, interest cost, wastage, wages, other expenses, etc.


Buying a thing with basic price 100 at 68% discount means you bought it at 32. Selling at 65% discount means you sell at 35. Gross profit margin is 3/35, or 8.6%. So the >=8% gross margin that others are asking for is already there at 65% discount. So Mr. Pankaj gets all the sales and volumes he needs since he quotes the best price in the market, while the fools out there sit idle, continuing to quote 60% discount. What's more, these fools happily believe that Mr. Pankaj isn't making any money or maybe is selling at a loss. Amidst all this, mathematics has the last laugh.


Similarly, some people think that if a bank borrows money at 4% interest rate per year [the current rate paid on savings accounts] and issues loan at 10%, then its gross margin is 6%. May not be true. One way to think about this is to forget that the entity in which the bank is dealing is currency/rupees itself. Just call it "goods". The bank borrows 100 rupees but let's just call it "goods" without specifying its value. It pays 4 rupees for one year for these goods and collects 10 rupees. So for the bank the cost of goods sold is 4 while "revenue" is 10. Hence on this trade the gross profit margin is 6/10= 60%.

But there seems to be a problem with the above way of thinking. What if it's a factory that borrows 100 rupees worth of steel [excluding interest cost, if any] and needs to pay 4 rupees for the borrowing cost? Selling this steel at 110 is sort of identical to the bank example, but in this case we'll calculate gross profit margin as 6/110= ~5.45%

Not wholly clear to me yet.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

America accuses without proof, then retaliates, then demands pro-America concessions or steps in order to normalize the situation

I've seen this thing repeat many times over the past few years, that it has become a pattern. This is so important that it needs to be explained. Examples will make this clear.

- US accused Russia of "interference" and "meddling" in its 2016 election. No evidence was offered. US media spread this accusation like wildfire. US politicians spoke/speak about this in a matter-of-fact way. No one questioned/questions that US hasn't provided and isn't providing even a bit of proof. Now US folks talk about this "meddling" as if this is an indisputable fact. Fact established, US went on to illegally seize two Russian-owned diplomatic compounds located in US [on another accusation/pretext that these were being used for spying]. Illegality aside, US later offered Russia a "deal" in which "the return of the compounds was tied to allowing the U.S. to expand its consulate in St. Petersburg" [link]. So first create a false pretext for something that's otherwise illegal and unjustifiable. Then carry out the illegal action and keep loudly beating the drum that it's justified because of that false pretext. Then offer a "deal" in which America gets benefits in "return" for normalization of the situation [from the standpoint of the affected party]. So at the end, America gets something positive while the other party comes back to zero level. And what if you choose to reject their "deal"? In that case America is shameless enough to blame YOU for rejecting their "deal/offer" and for "escalating" the situation.

"Despite an offer to return the compounds, the Russians chose escalation over accommodation. The Trump administration, in the end, chose retaliation." [link]